Mamás Bravas

Mamás Bravas

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2023 | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2023
Band Classical Chamber




"Shepparton Festival's New Direction Raises the Culture Stakes"

As one of Australia’s major regional arts festivals, Shepparton Festival is building on its multicultural heritage and demographical changes to offer some bold new programming initiatives.

Kristen Retallick was appointed as the new Artistic Director of the Shepparton Festival in August 2022, with a brief of creating a program for the 17-day 2023 festival, scheduled from 17 March to 2 April. Subsequently, this relatively tight time-frame was made even more difficult when floods hit the region in October 2022.

Retallick, who lives 30 minutes north of the city and was physically cut off for several weeks during the floods, somehow managed to pull together a program, based strongly on local community involvement and responding to what was possible and practical in the region. Flexibility was a key to decision-making and Retallick, herself a visual artist, decided not to theme her festival, but rather to ask the community to explore their own concepts, which produced some interesting results.

The 2023 festival presents over 25 events and 50 performances that utilise 25 venues, involving over 200 artists. The program is multidisciplinary, covering everything from fine art, sculpture and installations to comedy, dance, music and writing, with many outdoor events and experiences. There are a mix of free and ticketed events.

Programming the festival:

Retallick tells ArtsHub: ‘Recently I recognised a lot of very rapid changes happening in Shepparton. I believe that the city is open to new ideas and is moving into a much more progressive space than previously. It has long been a multicultural place with over 50 languages spoken and one of the largest communities of First Nations and Pasifika peoples of any regional centre. Now there is increased confidence among those communities to celebrate who they are.’

She continues: ‘This change is really exciting for the development of the arts, as it’s now a place l can be truly proud of. I want to move the Festival to more contemporary programming while still offering things that remain familiar to our previous audiences. Current programming has come from a place of being receptive to artists’ ideas with curatorial guidance from me.’

Now in its 27th year, with a rich history of diverse programming, the Festival’s purpose has always been twofold, first as a vehicle to encourage the community to get involved with grass roots engagement, while offering arts and cultural groups a platform to exhibit and perform. At the same time, the Festival helps build the profile of Shepparton as a destination to both live in and visit, demonstrating the diversity and liveability of the city and environs, and helping to improve social cohesion.

Musical additions:

Opera singer and performer, Allegra Giagu, with an impressive international classical music background, arrived in the region last year and discovered that the Festival was inviting Expressions of Interest for new events.

Giagu says: ‘I thought it was a predominantly visual arts-based festival and didn’t imagine that classical music had much of a home there … but I’m always looking for unusual places for opera and chamber music to surface so I contacted Kristen.’

She adds: ‘I knew from the moment I started chatting to her that we would be fast friends. Our conversation started with the idea for one program of music. My role as Creative Producer of the ¡Ópera Española! program this year really blossomed from there.’

A new partnership is created:

Retallick says that her own knowledge of classical music is limited, but she loves what Giagu is offering to bring to Shepparton. ‘Previous classical music programs have always been popular here, but have often been sourced from outside the region. They were mostly opera hits in the orchard or vineyard. With ¡Ópera Española! in our program this year, and co-producing this program with Allegra, I’m really excited to be working with a local person who has a successful and internationally significant career in opera and arts event production.’

Giagu says: ‘This year’s classical music offering is opulent and boutique. We wanted to create a buzz and test the waters. We wanted to give the classical music fans something really special, while also delivering an exciting visual experience that wouldn’t feel intimidating to people who perhaps are curious but not all-out opera fans.’

Her choice of operatic programming was inspired by her love of Spanish music, as well as by the event space at Tallis Wine, which she thought was perfect for an event that could additionally offer food and wine. The program consists of some unusual and lesser-known pieces from the Spanish Baroque repertoire by her ensemble Mamás Bravas in the first half. This will be followed by the flamboyant flamenco dancing of Arte Kanela (Chantelle Cano and Johnny Tedesco) with guitarist Gerard Mapstone in the second. Circus performers are also in the mix.

Giagu continues: ‘My desire was to put on an event that was evocative, immersive and inviting. I also love to feed people’s souls and bellies, so there will be enormous paellas and tapas and wine. The whole site will be transformed. I don’t want people feeling they have to know something or follow some kind of code to attend a classical music event. I also don’t want to insult audiences by ‘dumbing down’ the program in the hope that it’s somehow more accessible if you know the tunes! We trust that we’ll be transported and that we will love the show as a whole. That’s the model I’m working to. I want people to walk in and feel welcome and inspired.’

Potential next steps:

Retallick notes: ‘For the moment we are very happy to present ¡Ópera Española!, which is a new-styled event with marvellous singers and players and the creation of a vibrant, colourful environment with both flamenco and circus.’

¡Ópera Española! is also being broadcast on the Australian Digital Concert Hall on 11 April and then at the Bloomington Early Music Festival in the US at the end of May, both very impressive platforms.

This new direction may be considered a brave choice for a regional festival, but it is built on solid research and known demographics of previous festival-goers, while Retallick says that the festival marketing strategies are carefully considered across all media. Meanwhile, planning is underway for a larger and more ambitious classical music component in 2024.

The 2023 Shepparton Festival runs from 18 March to 3 April at various venues in Shepparton, Victoria.

¡Ópera Española! (A Spanish Opera) performs one night only, on Friday 24 March at Tallis Wine, Dookie. - Arts Hub, Suzannah Conway

"¡Ópera Española! On Australian Digital Concert Hall"

¡Ópera Española!, presented by Mamás Bravas is part of the Shepparton Festival 2023. However, music lovers around Australia can enjoy this scintillating performance of the music of Spain on Australian Digital Concert Hall (ADCH).

¡Ópera Española! is, at its core, a journey through the extremely rare Zarzuela Antigua repertoire of Spain, much of which was lost to fires in the mid-1700’s. As well as being streamed on ADCH, the concert will be streamed for the Bloomington Early Music Festival on 27th May.

Mamas Bravas is the brainchild of mezzo-soprano and creative producer Allegra Giagu. Under her artistic direction ¡Ópera Española! promises a fiesta of ravishing music and dance, nestled into the ‘Andalusian Mountains’ of Rye at Tallis. - Sounds Like Sydney, Shamistha de Soysa

"Spanish Opera to join Shepparton Festival"

On Friday, March 24, ¡Ópera Española!, which translates to Spanish Opera, will hit Tallis Winery in the Dookie Hills.

The event, which is part of the Shepparton Festival, will be an immersive and vibrant fiesta of music and dance from two ensembles, along with paella, platters and wine.

“This style of Iberian Baroque music saw people from all levels of society spill out on the street together and dance. Much of this repertoire was lost in the 1700s,” Australian mezzo-soprano opera singer Allegra Giagu said.

In 2015, Allegra was on the gruelling New York audition circuit when she was inspired to explore this lost period of Spanish Baroque music.

“I had never heard it before, but I was certain I knew what it would sound like, and so I started to Google. I came up with almost nothing and I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“I had identified a gap, and I knew I had to find this music. It had to be somewhere! That’s where the journey and Mamas Bravas began.

“It is an incredible honour to present them to the community as we have interpreted them, and we hope you will feel inspired and deeply satisfied as you join us on this musical journey.”

The first performance of ¡Ópera Española! unearths this rediscovered repertoire, with Allegra’s voice and the Mamas Bravas ensemble of instruments, including Baroque violin, oboe and harp — along with theorbo, a stringed lute-like instrument, guitar and percussion from world-renowned musicians.

Newly appointed festival director Kristen Retallick is excited for local audiences to enjoy a night and performance to remember for years to come.

“This music is accessible, fun, and will make you want to dance, whoop and have a great time,” Ms Retallick said.

“We’ve also invited some incredible young artists from Uncaged Spirit circus school in Moama to make the evening at Tallis Wine even more special.”

To reserve your seat at this Friday’s performance, head to - Shepparton News, Djembe Archibald

"Tallis Wine Added To List Of World Stages"

AUSTRALIAN mezzo-soprano opera singer Allegra Giagu has performed on some of the world’s most prestigious stages – including the Sydney Opera House and London’s West End. Now, Giagu, along with ensemble Mamás Bravas, can add Dookie to the list.

¡Ópera Española! (translated to Spanish Opera) at Tallis Wine in the Dookie Hills on March 24 will be an immersive and vibrant fiesta of music and dance from two ensembles, along with paella, platters and wine.

A DELIGHT FOR THE SENSES … ¡Ópera Española! (translated to Spanish Opera) at Tallis Wine in the Dookie Hills on March 24 will be an immersive and vibrant fiesta of music and dance from two ensembles, along with paella, platters and wine. To book tickets, head to

The event is brought to local audiences as part of 2023’s Shepparton Festival, however the story of how this baroque style of Spanish music can be enjoyed in modern times dates back centuries.

The vitality of Spanish music in this period may only be revealed by understanding the performance as a whole: A fantastical celebration of dance, music, acting and often circus, which calls for the audience to be invested and involved.

“This style of Iberian Baroque music saw people from all levels of society spill out on the street together and dance. Much of this repertoire was lost in the 1700’s,” explained Giagu.

“Due to severe controls and prohibitive costs of printing in Spain at that time, it was common for just one copy of musical compositions to be printed and housed in national libraries.

Following the fires which destroyed the Royal Library and Music Archive of the Alcázar palace in Madrid in 1734, and the earthquake of 1755 which took with it the library of King John IV of Portugal, hundreds and thousands of musical records were lost.”

The works presented in this program then, have quite literally risen from the ashes.

“It is an incredible honour to present them to the community as we have interpreted them, and we hope you will feel inspired and deeply satisfied as you join us on this musical journey,” said Giagu.

The first performance at Shepparton Festival’s ¡Ópera Española! unearths this rediscovered repertoire, with Giagu’s voice and the Mamas Bravas ensemble of instruments, including Baroque violin, oboe and harp – along with theorbo (a stringed lute-like instrument), guitar and percussion from world-renowned musicians.

The second, Eterno Flamenco, explores a universe of music and dance; presented by acclaimed dancers, Chantelle Cano and Johnny Tedesco (Arte Kanela) and renowned guitarist, Gerard Mapstone.

Tickets to ¡Ópera Española! are on sale now via the Shepparton Festival website. - The Adviser

"Shepparton Festival Like You've Never Seen It Before"

THE official program for this years’ Shepparton Festival was revealed Thursday, February 16 by festival chair Kirsten Green and director Kristen Retallick, featuring a special live operatic performance by Allegra Giagu.

Launching its 27th year, The Shepparton Festival will run for 17 days offering experiences in artistic expression.

UNVEILING… Shepparton Festival director Kristen Retallick reveals this years’ program at The Vault. The 2023 festival celebrates the individual creative contributors of our city and region who “from many pixels” make the picture complete. The Shepparton Festival will run March 17 to April 2, 2023, bringing several exciting events to the region.

Amongst the line-up of performances, live music, exhibitions, workshops, and experiences, highlights include a Spanish Opera at Tallis Wines performed by Ms Giagu and Mamás Bravas, a Multicultural Comedy Gala featuring big names in comedy like Dilruk Jayasinha and Ivan Aristeguieta, art exhibitions featuring local artists like Tom Day, Rachel Doller and Tammy-Lee Atkinson, and much more.

This is Ms Retallick’s first festival as its new director. She said, “It’s exciting to see the program out in the public. I’m really excited by the number of live music offerings, and it’s great to have many new events and acts part of this years’ festival.”

LANZAMIENTO DEL FESTIVAL… At the festival launch, Allegra Giagu performed a special operatic performance to entice the crowd. You can catch Lyric-Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano, Ms Giagu and Mamás Bravas at ¡Ópera Española! (Spanish Opera), being held at Tallis Winery during the festival. It is but one exciting arts offering in the program this year.

You can apply to volunteer at this years’ festival online and also find ‘Call to Create 2024’ to submit artworks that express your ideas of what the Shepparton Festival is or what you think it can be. The successful applicant help shape 2024’s promotional material. Applications close March 6.

The Shepparton Festival will run March 17 to April 2, 2023. Explore the full program and purchase tickets at - The Adviser, Deanne Jeffers

"Launching Shepparton Festival to new heights"

Feb 16, 2023

It’s been 27 years since Shepparton Festival was first launched and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Better yet, build upon it.

The 2023 Shepparton Festival program has officially been released and it’s full-to-the-brim with comedy, film, music, art, food, workshops, theatre and performances from local and national talent.

Tickets are available now and people are encouraged to run, not walk, to ensure they catch a glimpse of the two-week program, beginning Friday, March 17 and concluding on Sunday, April 2.

Shepparton Festival returns for 2023
Newly appointed festival director Kristen Retallick called it “a feast for the senses”, with a considered program that has something for everyone.

“We are so thrilled to share our 2023 program, and we cannot thank our contributors enough for developing exciting and innovative experiences that reflect their individual expressions,” she said.

Event highlights include Yarka’s Creation, a roaming art exhibition by Yorta Yorta artist Tammy-Lee Atkinson.

Exploring the connection to Country and language, Ms Atkinson’s work invites attendees to follow the art map on the festival’s website and embark on a treasure hunt around Greater Shepparton in search of a series of animal artworks.

Also on offer is ¡Ópera Española!, a Spanish opera experience at Tallis Wine in Dookie; Close To Home, a dance performance by Victorian College of the Arts and London choreographer Sadé Alleyne at the Shepparton Art Museum Amphitheatre; and Foliage and Rocks, an installation of hand-made textile banners at Wild Life Brewing Co. inspired by local artist Rachel Doller’s use of nature and sustainability in her practice.

Ms Retallick is looking forward to seeing the new artwork and festival as a whole attracting locals and visitors to the region.

“Our town is truly on the national art map, with work from locally, nationally and internationally significant artists, producers and performers,” Ms Retallick said.

“Creativity has been made an integral part of our local lifestyle, and we are so proud to have contributed to that for 27 years.

“We can’t wait to see you there.”

The full Shepparton Festival 2023 program is available online, or you can pick up a physical copy from businesses in Shepparton and surrounds.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit - Seymour Telegraph, Taylah Baker


LIVE Album and Broadcast

Bloomington Early Music Festival 2023

Sound and Production: Daniel Denholm & Shoelace Creative 

LIVE Broadcast

Australian Digital Concert Hall from Shepparton Festival 2023

Production: Hugh Drum, HD Productions and Hire



Collaborating with Australia's best multi-skilled performers from the spheres of Early Music to the late 19th Century, Mamás Bravas engages in a dialogue of Vocal and Chamber Music, celebrating diversity of all kinds. What does Art Music have in common with Folk Music? Does the exploration and embodiment of dance alter the playing of dance music in performance? What is our social impact, and how do we nurture a sense of emotional depth and community in our audiences? How can we empower artists in our industry and how should we inspire the next generation? These are some of the questions which drive us, and challenge us to go beyond our limiting beliefs. We invite you to be with us every step of the way.

Band Members